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Stockholm congestion charge vote "a farce"

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14:49 CET+01:00
Stockholm's mayor, the Social Democrats' Annika Billström, wants the government to change the law so that the congestion charge is classified as just that - a charge instead of a tax.

But Finance Minister Pär Nuder has rejected the idea.

According to both Billström and councillor Kristina Axén Olin of the Moderate Party, the fuss around the vote on the congestion charge has turned into a political circus.

The question remains as to who is the ringmaster.

The current spanner in the works is what should be written on the back of the ballot papers in next year's referendum on the matter. It is thought that both the yes and no ballot papers will have an explanation of what the response means.

In an article in Dagens Nyheter on Monday, Billström wrote that she has run out of patience on the matter. "Now we Social Democrats are going our own way," she wrote, proposing that each party should formulate its own text.

But the conservative parties have said that all they want is a simple yes or no, with no extra text.

The Left Party, Greens and Social Democrats are trying to find a compromise but apparently cannot agree on what the no-side text says.

"It's starting to be a farce. We are now five parties who don't want any text on the backs of the ballot papers, so it ought to be possible to get a majority for that," said Kristina Axén Olin to TT.

"But now we're getting closer to a vote and Annika Billström wants to throw in a third option."

On the Social Democrats' ballot paper, Billström wants it to say that the congestion charge will be changed to a car duty, where the money is pumped back into the region.

And since that would be contrary to constitutional law, Billström wants the law changed.

But Finance Minister Pär Nuder has flatly rejected her suggestion.

"That won't be considered during this mandate period," he told TT, adding that it is not viable either in practice or in principle.

"It's a huge matter of principle. Obligatory charges are defined as tax according to the constitution, so this would be something completely new," he said.

TT/The Local

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